7 Fantastic Day Trips From Inverness

Ever had the desire to take a trip to the Scottish Highlands but worried you might not have enough time to fit everything in? Inverness is a fanatically diverse city in the Highlands, with many great links to beautiful coasts, forests and mountains across Scotland. We've put together this list of unmissable day trips and tours ideas to help inspire you to plan the perfect mini Highlands trip.

  1. Dornoch Dornoch

    Dornoch Sands, a beach on the Dornoch Firth, south west of Dornoch

    Travel: Inverness to Dornoch

    • Via train and bus – 1hr 45 minutes
    • Via car – 1hr

    Journey north from Inverness to Tain and then a further stretch across the Dornoch Firth and you’ll find the picturesque coastal town of Dornoch. Golfers are in for a treat at the Royal Dornoch Golf Club. Situated on the coast overlooking Dornoch Sands, this famous club boasts one of the finest of all golf courses in Scotland and is magnificent to tee off on. If you’re looking for a beach day out, head to Dornoch Beach. Featuring a tranquil atmosphere and stretches of golden sands, it’s a great place for relaxing strolls, playing in the waves or making sandcastles with the little ones.

    If you fancy doing a little bit more, travel past Dornoch to Dunrobin Castle & Gardens in Golspie. This grand castle and garden estate dates back to the early 1300s and is a real sight to explore. Tour the castle and grounds and see for yourself how this coastal gem has been significant throughout Scottish history.

  2. Ullapool Achiltibuie

    Uitzicht op Canisp, Cul Mor en Cul Beag van Stac Pollaidh

    Travel: Inverness to Ullapool

    • Via bus – 1hr 20 minutes
    • Via car – 1hr 15 minutes

    Head north west to the coastal location of Ullapool. On the way you’ll pass through mesmerising Highland landscapes and once you’re here, the scenic views don’t stop. This quaint fishing town offers a peaceful escape amongst untouched mountains and landscapes with a variety of Scottish wildlife to spot whilst you’re here.

    Inverpolly Estate and reserve is filled to the brim with wildlife spotting opportunities, hillwalking in Coigach and Assynt, and even boat trips out to the west coast. This rugged landscape is also a great reason to stay that little bit longer or extend your trip – there’s just so much to see.

  3. Wester Ross UNESCO Biosphere Wester Ross

    Shieldaig, Wester Ross

    Travel: Inverness to Wester Ross

    • Via car – 1hr 10 minutes
    • Via train/bus – varies on route

    If you’re looking for jaw dropping scenery, this is the place to be! The Wester Ross UNESCO Biosphere is situated west from Inverness and is home to true and authentic Scottish Highland culture and surroundings. It is the ideal place for the avid walkers and cyclists, with opportunities to explore the area by kayak too. You’ll find plenty of attractions to explore here, such as Gairloch Museum and Attadale Gardens. Corrieshalloch Gorge and the Falls of Measach are real highlights if you’re wanting to get outdoors for a day.

    Elsewhere, you can get involved in the rustic music and songs of the Highlands, as well as experiencing the Gaelic language in person and learning all about the stories and tales of the area.

  4. Culloden Battlefield Inverness

    Culloden Battlefield

    Travel: Inverness to Culloden Battlefield

    • Via bus – 25 minutes
    • Via car – 15 minutes

    It’s not a trip to Inverness if you don’t venture out to the iconic Culloden Battlefield, a historic site that saw the end of the infamous Jacobite Risings in 1745. Take a step back in time into the 360°

    immersive experience, learn all about the gory details in the museum and see real weapons and unique artefacts on display too. Head up to the roof garden to enjoy panoramic views, admire the restored 18th-century Leanach Cottage and spot Highland cows grazing on the battlefield. It’s a great day out for the whole family.

    If you’re travelling by car, venture a little further to Clava Cairns. This well-preserved prehistoric Bronze-Age cairn and standing stones featured in the popular Outlander TV series and are free to visit and open all year round - an educational visit for everyone to enjoy.

    • Parkeerplaats
    • Invalidenparkeerplaats
    • Ringleiding
    • Café of Restaurant
  5. Forres and Elgin Forres

    Brodie Castle, Near Forres, Moray.

    © VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

    Travel: Inverness to Forres and Elgin

    • Via train – 30 minutes and 45 minutes
    • Via drive – 40 minutes and 1hr

    Head east from Inverness where you can enjoy the welcoming towns of Forres and Elgin. In Forres, Brodie Castle is a grand 16th century estate that was home to the Brodie clan for over 400 years and boasts an impressive collection of artworks, as well as decorative ceilings and fine furniture. Head to Findhorn Heritage Centre to learn about the salmon fishing industry and the history of this coastal village. Stop by Findhorn Beach where you’ll find an uninterrupted stretch of golden sandy shores – perfect for a beach stroll. Findhorn is also the starting point of the 50 mile Moray Coast Trail which stretches all along the coast to Cullen in Aberdeenshire. 

    In Elgin, make sure you head to Elgin Cathedral, also known as the ‘Lantern of the North’, to witness one of Scotland’s most beautiful medieval buildings that dates back to the 13th century. Nearby, Elgin Museum hosts objects from across the globe from all periods of history, with displays having a special focus on the surrounding area of Moray too.

  6. Loch Ness Drumnadrochit

    Uitzicht op Loch Ness vanuit Whitefield

    © VisitScotland/Stuart Brunton

    Travel: Inverness to Drumnadrochit

    • Via bus – 30 minutes
    • Via drive – 30 minutes

    When you think of Inverness we can tell that the thought of the iconic Loch Ness isn’t far behind. Just a short journey south of the city you can explore trails, cycle routes, and famous sights across this magnificent landscape. The Loch Ness 360 Trail connects the Great Glen Way and the South Loch Ness Trail and is ideal for walkers, cyclists and runners who want to enjoy the great outdoors. Make sure you book a boat tour to admire the size and scale of the loch from a different angle.

    Delve 1,000 years deep into the history of Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands at Urquhart Castle. Explore the dramatic ruins that perch over the loch, climb the Grant Tower for panoramic views, and browse the historic collections of artefacts and replicas. Stop by The Loch Ness Centre and embark on the immersive tour to uncover the truth about one of the world’s most famous legends!

  7. Cairngorms National Park (via Aviemore) Scottish Highlands

    The Cairngorms National Park

    Travel: Inverness to Aviemore

    • Via train/bus – 45 minutes
    • Via car – 40 minutes

    If you’re looking for a day in the outdoors filled with activities and adventure, head along to the Cairngorms National Park. Just a short travel south west to Aviemore, you’re met with stunning landscapes that are perfect for watersports, hiking, cycling, Munro bagging and more. If you’re travelling with the family the wee ones will love Landmark Forest Adventure Park at Carrbridge, with tree-top trails, three water coaster rides, a Dinosaur Kingdom, the world’s first Bamboozeleum, woodland trails, and the Tarzan Trail, to name a few.

    Winter in the park is truly something special, with crisp and frosty landscapes, warming winter events, and exciting snowsports to try if you get lucky with the winter weather. This mesmerising spot on the map is also a great location if you fancy staying a little bit longer and really soaking up all that’s on offer.

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